One of the books I read early in the year remains a favorite. If you read one book on writing, make it this. Or read it as a memoir of one of the greatest writers of our time. An authentic voice is such an elusive thing. Stephen King does it so effortlessly.
To imagine him facing near death halfway through his writing and still producing such a great book speaks to his skills as an author.
I learned a lot from this book and wholeheartedly recommend it.
The Lost Queen by Signe Pike
This is the first book in her trilogy, and I loved this tale about the legendary Merlin and his twin sister. Medieval Scotland comes alive with the author’s vivid descriptions. As I read the story, I could picture the majestic mountains and simpler abodes. I saw the trees that reached the sky and flowers growing underfoot. I could smell the leather and herbs. As a vegetarian, I did not imagine tasting the food, but she described them in detail. The protagonist, Languoreth, is introduced as a young girl in a magical land.
This quote defines her life: “We may not always have the choice we would like. But we always have a choice.”
Her passion and love bring her momentary bliss, followed by worry and grief. She is headstrong and flawed and took me along on an emotional rollercoaster.
The brother-sister relationship depicted here reminded me of my trilogy Land of Magadha, where the siblings are the protagonists. Good to see more stories explore this beautiful relationship.
I look forward to reading the next book in this trilogy. Recommend for historical fiction and historical fantasy readers.
The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan
This book is a slow read. That said, brilliant writing by Amy Tan. Each chapter is immaculate in bringing us into the characters’ lives. The way the story unfolds is masterful.
It is a tale of two sisters, Chinese immigrant Kwan and her American-born sister Olivia. I can still picture Kwan in my head, calling her little sister Libby-ah. As an immigrant, I could relate to many things this immigrant from China does. I don’t have ghost stories to narrate like Kwan, but the tales my grandmother told me as a child inspired me to write.
The relationship between the sisters is raw and real. It simultaneously broke my heart and brought a smile to my face. It is a story of identity, one we are born with, one we show to the world, and the true self that is hidden even from ourselves. We all need a sister like Kwan to be our voice of reason.
What are your favorite books that you read this year?
Reading Emily Henry’s book is like drinking hot chai on a cold rainy day. It warms your insides. Her debut novel is full of tenderness and warmth.
This book is about a teenager with an abandonment crisis. To be young and to feel so deeply is a gift. One we don’t recognize till our senses have dulled. You can feel Nat’s emotions like a tide swell.
I did not pay much attention to all the multi-verse and parallel universes. I love Sci-Fi, but that is not why I read Emily Henry. I read her books for the emotional punch. I loved all the Native American tales in this book. I can easily imagine a grandmother narrating them under the night sky, sitting in front of a mellow fire.
If you want to experience life through the eyes of a teenager where every problem is earth-shattering, and every pleasure is a god’s gift, this is your book.
I finished the Raje series by Sonali Dev. These books are a Jane Austen-inspired Indian American retelling. First off, the brilliance of Austen and her stories are something to marvel at. Centuries after she wrote, the stories still resonate with us. Sonali’s writing brought me joy, and I highly recommend it to fellow contemporary romance readers. Don’t read the books on an empty stomach. You will be raiding your pantry from the mouth-watering food in the book.
Emma Project review (Rajes # 4)
Forget about the Jane Austen adaptation part and enjoy the novel for itself.
Author Dev has written a delightful ending to the Raje series. I enjoyed the dynamic of well-meaning family members trying to break up and dissuade the couple. Ultimately, it comes down to the protagonist accepting she deserves a happily ever after ending. If you are a fan of Austen and the romance genre in general, this book is for you.
This book surprised me in a good way. Short stories compiled cleverly into a novel. Sprinkling of old fairy tales retold in clever ways. Recommend for fantasy readers.
Next, I read Sword of Destiny.
I loved that ending. For a story told from the POV of an emotionless witcher, this book (and series) packs quite the emotional punch. Fantastic world, larger-than-life characters, and a narrative that is a feast for all our senses—this is fantasy as it ought to be.
I watched Season one of the Netflix Witcher series after Sword of Destiny. The show has three different timelines (Geralt’s story takes place over a few years, Yennifer’s over a few decades, and Ciri’s is the present), and the books helped me make sense of it all.
Most recently, I finished Blood of Elves.
This is officially the first book in the Witcher series, but this is the third book I have read after the Last Wish and the Sword of Destiny.
I loved the Ciri training montage as it unfolded on paper. What a great way to showcase it.
The letter from Yennifer revealed a mountain of feelings and emotions without Geralt and her meeting.
I cannot wait to read the next book and watch Season 2 of the show.
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft: If you read one book on writing, make it this. An authentic voice is such an elusive thing. Stephen King does it so effortlessly. To imagine him facing near-death halfway through the text and still producing such a great book speaks to his skills as an author. I learned a lot from this book and highly recommend it to all my author friends.
A Game of Fear (Inspector Ian Rutledge, #24): To say I have a soft spot for the shell-shocked inspector is an understatement. I have read all the books in this series. This novel was better than the last book. That is saying something because this is book 24. Recommend for mystery lovers and lovers of the foggy, grey English countryside.
The Last Wish (The Witcher, #0.5): Surprised by this book. In a good way. Short stories compiled cleverly into a novel. Sprinkling of old fairy tales retold in clever ways. Recommend for fantasy readers. I am off reading the next book in this series.
Of course, if you have not read my books, start reading with Heir to Malla.
A lady in my book club recommended Lisa See’s Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. I am embarrassed to say I had never heard of the author before. I read the book and loved it. It is based in 19th century China, and most of the story takes place in the women’s chamber. No voyages or epic journeys in this novel. Instead, it revolves around a woman’s life in that time and the protagonist’s friendship and family ties. This may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I loved the emotional tug of heart. Have you read any other Lisa See novels that you would recommend?
Incense and Sensibility by Sonali Dev – This is an Indian American twist to Jane Austen’s classic. I have read other books in the Rajes series, and the author keeps getting better with her flavors, characters, and tales.
And Then You Loved Me by Inglath Cooper – Great love story filled with family drama and sacrifices. Similar notes to Heir to Malla, though my book is set in medieval India. Isn’t that the marvelous thing about human nature that allows us to enjoy books set in different cultures and periods?
Most of us have heard the saying: Practice makes perfect. In the case of authors, writing does make us better. But what if we are practicing something wrong. Then we carry those bad habits from book to book. How do we improve our craft without relying on our editors to come and save the day?
Luckily there are several different ways.
We can read novels by other authors. This is my favorite option because I love to read. I have read 24 books so far this year. Reading helps us see how other authors structure their stories. Sometimes, I am too caught up in the narration to pause and observe the style. Which is not a bad thing.
You can also attend writer’s conferences or take courses. I have attended a local writer’s conference in the past and hope to take part in one next year when the world returns to normal.
In the meantime, I have been reading a few books on writing. While there is no magic wand, each book I have read has expanded my horizon. You can check out the writing books I have read here.
My most recent book is Characters & Viewpoints. This book is written in an easy-to-read style while imparting a lot of knowledge. I enjoyed the writing samples sprinkled throughout the book that conveyed information more readily. For my Land of Magadha series, I choose first-person POV because a few fantasies I had read used it. This book discussed all the different POV options and its merits. I might use third-person limited POV for my next series based on what I learned here. I recommend this book for aspiring writers and current writers.
Robin Hobb’s writing is marvelous. This third book of the Liveship traders trilogy concludes satisfactorily while leaving enough threads for us to meet these characters in a future book.
You can read my review of book one and two in my blog.
I read all three books in the last few months while editing and revising my book. That should tell you how this series captured my imagination. I am inspired to write a fantasy series after I complete the Land of Magadha series.
The author has written many books. What order to read the books is a question I asked myself. My answer is in the order she wrote them. I have read Farseer Trilogy and Liveship Traders Trilogy. I will be reading the Tawny Man trilogy next.
Highly recommend these books to any fantasy lover.
I read this book out of sequence. I read Recipe for Persuasion earlier and enjoyed it. You can read my review here. Before reading her new book, Incense and Sensibility, I decided to read the first book of the Rajes series, Pride, Prejudice and other flavors.
I am a huge fan of Jane Austen and have read her novels many times. I made sure I did not compare the characters in this book to Lizzy and Darcy in my head. Once I decided to enjoy this book as is, I appreciated this novel.
The story of the immigrant families resonated with me. Immigrant families and their high expectations for their kids rings true across cultures. The author has a way of describing her food that is magical. So a warning to readers to not read this book hungry. You will be attacking your fridge.
The alternating POV is effective. The story itself is not new. When Wickham arrives as a character, we know how it is going to end. The surprise is in the author’s treatment of this old tale and giving it a new life with plenty of Indian flavors.
Recommend for romance readers and Jane Austen book lovers.
This is book two in the Liveship Traders fantasy series. You can read my review of book one here.
I hope to one day write like Robin Hobb.
The world-building is mind-blowing.
Set in this world is a rich set of characters, each with their unique voice and arc. From Althea to Wintrow to Malta to Vivacia, this author has masterfully crafted an imaginative and emotionally satisfying story.
Middle books in a trilogy sometimes suffer from a meandering plot. Not the case in this book.
What am I looking forward to in book 3? Malta’s arc: That child is full of surprises; Althea and Brashen: Is there a happy ending here? Wintrow: I want the boy to have peace. Is that too much to ask? Vivacia: Will I see the ship fly?